Headphone Burn In

For Christmas, one of the things I received was a new set of headphones for my iPod. They are Klipsch S4 headphones which Consumer Reports had rated highly and reviews on Amazon seemed pretty favorable as well. There was nothing really wrong with my Sennheiser CX300 headphones I’ve had for a few years, but I felt like maybe I could do better.

klipsch-s4.jpg

Some of the reviews on Amazon said that these headphones required a “burn in” period to sound good. I had heard about that with some types of headphones, so I did some research. It’s one of those things that people don’t seem to agree on or whether it is even real. It seems like it would be pretty easy to measure the performance of headphones if you had the right equipment, but I guess a lot of headphones now actually conform to the shape of the ear and use a tight fit to produce part of the sound. So maybe it is harder than I think. Anyway, I think it is really funny that even though there isn’t much proof about burn in and what is effective, that there is a long page of instructions telling you how to do the best possible burn in of your headphones. It is posted at head-fi.org and referenced by a lot of different websites. You can actually get MP3’s with sounds recorded that are supposed to maximize burn in.

When I got the headphones, I tried them out and they didn’t sound all that great. So I left them plugged in while a playlist of normal music played at a little higher volume than I would typically listen to, but not as high as it would go. Some people recommend 40 hours of burn in, but I thought they were sounding better after only 15 minutes. I left them plugged in and would check back every now and then and over the next few hours it really did seem like the sound quality was improving. I let them run all night and then listened to them and they did sound very good, though not quite as much bass as I’m used to with the Sennheisers.

They are also very comfortable, almost like they aren’t even there. One thing is they have a Y cord instead of the asymetric cord of the Sennheisers which I had learned to like because it lets you unplug the earbuds and hang them from around your neck if you need to just take them out for a second to listen to someone or something.

Notes, Part 3

After thinking about a new notes app some more and looking at a bunch of different notes apps, now I am thinking that syncing with Google Docs might not be so bad. In particular, NoteMaster is cheap (99 cents, but has a free version you can play around with that lets you sync 8 notes), and syncs only with one folder in Google Docs, so I can keep any other docs separate. With Google in the mix, I can import notes from text files and edit them online from pretty much anywhere.

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Notes, Part 2

When I first got my iPod Touch, I looked around for a program that could hold all of my notes from my Palm. Apple’s built-in Notes app wouldn’t do categories and only had magic marker font (they got rid of that in a recent iOS update, but categories are still out). So it had to be able to import the 400+ notes, categorize them (or put them in folders), and then sync with my computer so they could be backed up. I wound up paying $1.99 for MemoBook which did all of that and not much else, though actually one neat thing is it lets you assign multiple categories to a note. This was pretty helpful because I assigned a category “Most Used” to the handful of notes I use the most and they are easier to get to that way.

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iPod Videos

When I first ripped all of my CD’s to MP3 files, I found out that if the music continued all the way to the end of the song, it would stutter at the end of the MP3. I got rid of that computer and my new one didn’t have the stutter. But for some reason with some CD’s it would put skips in the music. At first I thought the CD’s must be damaged, but if I ripped the same CD on my newer laptop, I didn’t have the problem.

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Remote Control Close Call

Last night I was have a refreshing drink of grape juice, grapefruit juice, and water when Mom called. I was on the sofa with my drink at my side and my remote control on my lap and dogs on either side of me. So I reached in my right pocket to get the phone and the remote slides to the left and went right into my refreshing drink. There was only about an inch of juice left, but I guess that was enough because the remote didn’t work anymore. That’s bad. I got this remote to replace my previous universal remote in March 2008 and they have since stopped making them. Well, they at least they don’t make them the same way and then new ones won’t allow me to use the cable I bought to hook the remote up to my computer (I wrote about this in JP1 still kicking).

So grape juice is dripping out of the bottom of the remote and I’m trying to help Mom with her wireless network so Kelly and Gabriele can get on the internet while they are spending the night at her house. I take the batteries out in case there is some kind of short and try to continue to coax out any juice into the bathtub rather than drip purple juice on to anything else. It just keeps leaking so I figure the only thing to do is try to take it apart and get all the juice wiped up. There were a couple of screws to take out and then I used my plastic pry tools I got when I replaced the battery in my old iPod. Those things work great for unsnapping plastic devices like this. Then I had to remove 4 more little screws and the whole thing came apart into 5 pieces: the front face, the rubber mat of buttons (fortunately each button is not an individual part), a plastic board with holes where each button goes, the circuit board, and the back cover. The rubber mat of buttons was pretty dirty, so I cleaned that off and then wiped down the other parts to get all of the grape juice off. The front face is hard to clean because the buttons stick out, but without the buttons it was easy to get all the grime of the last couple of years off of it. I put it all back together, put the batteries back in (which I had charging in case they had discharged due to a short) and I got nothing. There probably aren’t too many liquids that conduct electricity better than juice. Oh well, I still have my old remote with some buttons that don’t work, so I put the batteries in it and it worked okay except I had to fast forward through commercials instead of skip ahead 30 seconds since that button doesn’t work anymore. I thought maybe if I cleaned that remote off the buttons would work again, so I took it apart the same way and cleaned it out, but those buttons still didn’t work (or didn’t seem to anyway).

At some point I decided to go back to the juiced remote, tested it, took it apart again, put it back together, tested it again, and Hey! it works! The new one is better because it has backlighting and all the buttons work, so I’m glad to have it back. And now it’s even nice and clean.

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Angry Cake

I saw two articles in today’s paper about iPhone apps. One was about a Smurfs game that is free to download but you can buy add-ons from within the game and parents are getting billed hundreds of dollars when their kids buy Smurfberries from within the game (they’re not even real Smurfberries, they only exist within the game).

The second was about Angry Birds, which I have written about before. It is an iOS phenomenon, loved by all. It turns out the article was actually written for the New York Times and can be found here. I had never heard of Angry Birds until I got my iPod. Michael and Fiona like to play it when I visit them. Apparently dressing up as an angry bird was a popular Halloween costume (certainly more popular than last year). One of the things mentioned in the article is an Angry Birds birthday cake requested by a kid whose mother then spent 80 hours constructing. But it is great: picture.

Friends of Dekalb Animals

On the community bulletin board I started, a person wrote in and asked for help for Friends of Dekalb Animals. This organization is independent of the Dekalb Animal Services but helps transport animals from there to the northeastern US where it is easier to find homes for dogs. It is very expensive to transport a dog plus some veterinary services are needed, but it basically saves the dogs life.

Anyway, they are doing a thing through Citgo right now called Fueling Good hoping to get a $2500 gas card to help them out. People visit Citgo’s website and vote for Friends of Dekalb Animals. You can enter every day and every time you vote you can then play an instant win matching game where you could win $25 in gas.

Once you have signed up, you can click Cast Your Vote on the upper right of the link above. Then enter your e-mail address. Then do a search by entering “dekalb” and click on Friends of Dekalb Animals. Then choose to vote for them and you can play the matching game. It doesn’t cost anything and maybe it will help them out. You can vote every day through January 4.

Sortable Wiki Tables

Today I was reading an old comment from someone who had tried to update the CPF wiki with a table of flashlights and what kinds of batteries they use. To me this is something of fairly limited value because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of flashlights. And keeping a list up-to-date would be a lot of work. Plus I think most doing research on lights will know what their options are.

But the table this guy was trying to put in (he was stopped by the moderator for some reason) was pretty interesting. It lets you click on the headings of the table to sort by that column. I didn’t realize such a thing existed, but it is pretty neat. Anyway, the guy had posted a few rows of the code he had written, so I made a new entry here to see how it works. It puts a funky symbol in the heading that looks kind of like an elevator Door Close button (><). Then you click to sort by that column, which then toggles for ascending and descending. Pretty neat. And while there are all kinds of things that Wikipedia can do through add-on templates, the sortable table is built-in to the default installation of MediaWiki.

I added in a row of my own, but it's kind of a pain writing Wiki tables (though easier than in HTML). If I ever really develop this page, I think I would make an Excel spreadsheet and then export from Excel to Wiki using this online tool.

Wiki Customization

The Flashlight Wiki that I set up recently is doing pretty well so far (though it isn’t showing up in my webserver statistics so I don’t know how many visitors I’m getting; well, it shows a total on the wiki page). But I have made a lot of changes to the default installation in order to get things the way I want them. So I thought I would make a record of that in case I have to reinstall from scratch. These changes are for MediaWiki 1.16.0. Later I upgraded to 1.18.0 and made a new entry about customizations.

Things done in LocalSettings.php file:

Change path to new 135×135 logo that I made (from FAQ):

$wgLogo = "http://igirder.com/led.png";

Put in new line for favicon path (from FAQ):

$wgFavicon = "http://flashlightwiki.com/backup/favicon.ico";

Restrict edits to registered users who have been confirmed by the admin (from FAQ):
// Prevent anonymous users from editing
$wgGroupPermissions['*']['edit'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['*']['createpage'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['*']['createtalk'] = false;

// Prevent registered, non-confirmed users from editing (from FAQ):
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['move'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['edit'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['createpage'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['createtalk'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['upload'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['reupload'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['reupload-shared'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['minoredit'] = false;
$wgGroupPermissions['user' ]['delete'] = false;

// Allow confirmed users to edit
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['move'] = true; // Only add this line if you want all users to be able to move
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['edit'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['createpage'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['createtalk'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['upload'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['reupload'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['reupload-shared'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['minoredit'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['confirmed' ]['delete'] = true;

Enabled image uploads by making this statement true:

$wgEnableUploads = true;

Added a line to allow the wiki to generate thumbnails.

$wgMaxShellMemory = 524288;

Added a line to run a meta tag extension (also needed to add the meta.php file to the Extensions folder). Lets me include a meta tag for the main page description, but doesn’t seem to work for the page title (wiki uses TITLE tag anyway, not META):

require_once('extensions/meta.php');

Cached pages for quicker rendering (only does this for unregistered visitors, but I guess that would be most of the traffic).

$wgUseFileCache = true; /* default: false */
$wgFileCacheDirectory = "$IP/cache";
$wgShowIPinHeader = false;

When setting up the Wiki originally, I could pick a type of license, but picked none. To add a Creative Commons license, I configured these lines as follows (and put a logo image in my backup folder):

# $wgEnableCreativeCommonsRdf = true;
$wgRightsPage = ""; # Set to the title of a wiki page that describes your license/copyright
$wgRightsUrl = "http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/";
$wgRightsText = "a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License";
$wgRightsIcon = "http://flashlightwiki.com/backup/creative-commons-icon.png";

I wanted to be able to do footnotes like they do in Wikipedia, so I had to add the Cite extension by downloading a compressed file, putting it in my extensions folder, and extracting it. Then I had to add this line to the end of localsettings:

require_once("$IP/extensions/Cite/Cite.php");

I decided to add some AdSense ads to the page just to see if I get any revenue. There is a MediaWiki extension set up for it, so I unzipped that in the Extensions folder. I also needed to set up a new ad in AdSense that was 120×240. This generated some code for the ad, but I only needed a few key parts of the code, adding the following to localsettings.php. The last line is an option that hides ads from registered users, but I’d like to see what ads are showing up, so it is commented out. The instructions said to make a change to main.css, but I didn’t do that (couldn’t find main.css at first, but it is in skins/monobook) and it seems to work fine:

require_once( "$IP/extensions/GoogleAdSense/GoogleAdSense.php" );
$wgGoogleAdSenseClient = 'ca-pub-8914738878891900';
$wgGoogleAdSenseSlot = '2337837216';
$wgGoogleAdSenseID = 'flashlight';
// Show the AdSense box only for anonymous users
#$wgGoogleAdSenseAnonOnly = true;

I wanted to have some kind of filter to keep bots from registering, so I installed the extensions ConfirmEdit and ASIRRA, adding the following lines to the end of the file (also modified ConfirmEdit.php to act only for new user registrations):

require_once( "$IP/extensions/ConfirmEdit/ConfirmEdit.php" );
require_once( "$IP/extensions/ConfirmEdit/Asirra.php");
$wgCaptchaClass = 'Asirra';

Once I prevented bots from registering, I wanted to delete the bots that had signed up already, but you aren’t supposed to just delete users, so instead you can merge the users and then delete them (this probably matters more if users had made any edits, but the bots were never confirmed, still better safe than sorry). So I downloaded and installed the User Merge and Delete Extension, adding the following lines to localsettings, and then commenting them out once I had merged everyone.

# require_once( "$IP/extensions/UserMerge/UserMerge.php" );
# $wgGroupPermissions['bureaucrat']['usermerge'] = true;

Lastly, I had to add these two lines to allow short URL’s (using unrecommended method (also had to modify .htaccess to make this work, see next section):

$wgArticlePath = "/$1";
$wgUsePathInfo = false;

Modifications to .htaccess file

First, when using an add-on domain like this, there are a lot of ways to see the web pages, and I only want people to be able to see them as http://flashlightwiki.com/stuff

But since it is a subdomain *and* and add-on domain, people could get to by seeing the subfolder on igirder http://igirder.com/flashlightwiki/stuff as well as http://flashlightwiki.igirder.com/stuff, so these lines in my .htaccess file redirect both of those (code from here, but I adapted it to get rid of the www. prefix on the destination):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?flashlightwiki\.igirder\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^!www\.flashlightwiki\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://flashlightwiki.com/$1 [R=301,L]

After that add these lines to redirect www.flashlightwiki.com to flashlightwiki.com (not sure what the second two lines do):

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.flashlightwiki.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://flashlightwiki.com/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/flashlightwiki($|/.*$)
RewriteRule ^.* http://flashlightwiki.com%1 [R=301,L]

To get short URL’s to work, I had to make the changes shown just above to localsettings, but I also had to add this to the .htaccess file (for Wiki’s installed to root directory, which is what I did originally, not knowing any better). I did this after the stuff above so as to at least hopefully get people in close to the right format of URL before attempting any of this:

RewriteRule ^[^:]*\. - [L]
RewriteRule ^[^:]*\/ - [L]
RewriteRule ^/*$ /index.php?title=Main_Page [L,QSA]
RewriteRule ^(.+)$ /index.php?title=$1 [L,QSA]

Changes to Main.css

I thought it would be good to have internal links one color and external links the traditional blue (purple if a link has been visited before). Wiki also has red links for links to pages that don’t exist yet (dark red if you’ve tried to visit the page before). So I thought green would be good, but it was kind of hard to do light green and dark green, so I did dark green for unvisited internal links and brown for visited links. To do this, I had to change the main.css file under the skins/monobook folder. Technically you aren’t supposed to change main.css because it is part of the installation and this should be done with a separate css file. So if I upgrade or change the skin, I will have to make these changes again. There doesn’t seem to be a special class for internal links, so instead I set the general links to green and brown and then set new external links to blue and purple. So I revised these existing lines to read:

a {
text-decoration: none;
/* was color: #002bb8; */
color: #006600; /* dark green */
background: none;
}
a:visited {
/* was color: #5a3696; */
color: #663300; /*brown*/
}

Then I added these lines after that:

:link.external {
color: #002bb8;
}
:link.external:visited {
color: #5a3696;
}

Somewhere I read that when changing link colors you should use :link instead of A because A can be anchors, not just links. While I was messing around with colors, I also made the background color an off white (light yellow) by modify this line near the top of main.css:

#content {
background: #ffffdd; /*was white*/

Prefs that I modified
http://***/MediaWiki:Prefs-help-realname

Changed this to warn people registering that their accounts will not be activated until they send me an e-mail or PM at CPF or BLF.

Things I still want to do:

Enable multiple languages or at least a translation button. A guy from a Spanish language flashlight site said he would do some translating if I could enable other languages like Wikipedia does. The only way to get true multi-language support is to install a wiki for each language and have a “family” of wikis.

Change the title of the main page from Main Page – Flashlight Wiki to just Flashlight Wiki to maybe help search engine ranking. I think this will require changes to a javascript file (since it only applies to the Main Page, it has to be written as an IF statement), but I couldn’t find out where to do that.

I’d like to set up support for equations, but my first try to do that wasn’t successful (see comment of Jan. 2, 2011).

File size uploads are restricted to 2MB by default, but I’d like to change that to 500kb or smaller so people don’t upload giant images. This might require tweaking server settings that I don’t have access to though.